Virtual power plant trial for WA Goldfields


The WA Government has announced a $500,000 investment to develop a proposal for a virtual power plant (VPP) trial in the Goldfields.

A preliminary assessment into large-scale solar projects in the Goldfields identified the best path forward to bring renewable energy, innovative technology, and network support to the region.

The assessment involved extensive consultation with local industry, energy groups, mining companies, solar developers and relevant government agencies.

The proposal will consider the installation of a VPP on Kalgoorlie-Boulder properties, which may include public housing, giving the potential for reducing electricity bills for residents.

“Despite the Goldfields being an obvious location for a major solar project with year-round high solar energy levels, input to the electricity grid in the region needs to be carefully managed,” WA Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said.

“The trial of a VPP in the Goldfields is an exciting prospect that has the potential to assist Western Power and the market operator to assess how innovative technologies can help manage some network challenges in the region.”

Making land available for the development of large-scale renewable projects is also being planned to coincide with the implementation of network regulation changes in 2022.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said a comprehensive analysis of the complexities of a large-scale solar project in the region had been completed, with innovative ways forward mapped out.

“A VPP has the potential to achieve multiple positive outcomes, including increasing the amount of energy available in the Goldfields, trialling innovative power technologies, supporting grid stability and management strategies, and helping WA move forward on emissions reduction,” Minister MacTiernan said.

“We look forward to working with industry and other stakeholders on building the best model for the region.

“Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the wider region is a big economic contributor to the state.

“Future renewable energy solutions will be a priority to securing regional growth and servicing the needs of this growing regional population.”

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will work in collaboration with relevant agencies, particularly the Public Utilities Office, Western Power, and Lands agencies.